“An upstanding, intelligent young fellow, with all the sturdy Scotch virtues.”
With these words, the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, an American newspaper, described George “Dut” Chalmers, one of eight Scots to ever play in Major League Baseball (MLB).
Aberdonian Chalmers was the first European pitcher to start a modern World Series game, in 1915.
William Lamb, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, studied Chalmers’ life.
Lamb said: “George Chalmers is one of the few Scottish players to ever play in the MLB, in itself remarkable.
“He had always been described as a great pitcher, and for sure he was, but at the end he couldn’t fulfill the expectations because of arm injuries.”
Born in the Granite City on June 7, 1988, to George sen and Anne, Chalmers arrived in the United States aged two, after his family had decided to emigrate to New York.
Like any other kid in the US he started to play in his neighbourhood’s sandlots, but at the age of 14 he was already working.
Chalmers always wanted to be a biker, making side- money driving as a motorcycle pacemaker for bicycle races at Madison Square Garden.
But he was also in possession of a dangerous curveball and swiftly made a name for himself in the local baseball circuit, as a number of newspapers reported he earned $25-30 per game.
Lamb added: “When he was a prospect, Chalmers was considered the equal if not better than Grover Alexander, a future Hall of Famer and one of the best pitchers in history.”
With minor league Scranton Miners, he became one of the top hurlers in the area.
In the summer of 1910, Sporting Life newspaper wrote Chalmers was without any doubt the sporting sensation of the New York State League.
Therefore, the Philadelphia Phillies bought his rights for $4,000 and – as a modern sporting star – Chalmers joined the MLB in 1910, surrounded by a tonne of hype.
Following a solid freshman season, which led the ownership to reject a $7,000 bid made by the Detroit Tigers, Dut Chalmers signed a three-year extension with the Phillies.
However, Dame Fortune was to turn her back on Chalmers during a trip to Cuba.
The Phillies participated in a nine-game post-season tourney against the Almendares, but Dut injured a shoulder in the first match and didn’t play again in the campaign.
From bad to worse – coming back to the US from the Cuban journey he was briefly detained by Florida’s police over a passport issue.
Chalmers declared himself Scottish, offered to pay a $100 fine and was finally released.
He joined a training camp, still in pain, and was sent to a self-trained Welsh bonesetter, John D Reese, described as an expert of alternative medicine.
The outcome was miserable.
Lamb said: “This is a familiar story. Great pitchers that couldn’t meet the expectations because of injuries.
“It has recurred time and again, since MLB started to rely on modern medicine standards to heal its players.”
In 1913 Chalmers kept on playing with a torn ligament in his throwing shoulder, and due to poor performances was sidelined by his coach.
Distressed Phillies’ owner Horace Fogel said Chalmers cost him $800 a game during that season and he was cut during the 1914 campaign.
But after undergoing other treatments, he performed well in exhibition games, drawing interest again.
In 1915, he was re-signed by Philadelphia under new owners and became the first European pitcher to start a game in the World Series, against the Boston Red Sox.
Chalmers played the fourth match in place of Alexander and forced his opponents to score only twice.
However, his teammates struggled on offense and were able to score only one run in reply.
The Inquirer wrote: “Another Phil pitcher was sacrificed on the altar of futile attack.”
The Red Sox won the title, and one year later, Chalmers’ MLB career was over. Again due to fitness problems, he was farmed out to Kansas.
Back in the minor leagues, his story became brief and shadowy.
Soon he started to work as a boilermaker and insurance claims adjuster in the Bronx, were he lived with wife Elizabeth Ann and two children, George and Jean.
Lamb added: “After baseball, he held down a steady job and enjoyed his quiet family life. He died after two strokes in 1960 when he was 72.
“At the end, what’s remarkable in Chalmers’ life is that one, he was a MLB player from Scotland, which is unusual.
“Two, that he was a MLB player at all – that is still a distinction, because the percentage of people who played baseball as kids and made it to the MLB is incredibly small.”